Straight from its Nest

Screenshot-PidginI’ve been dabbling with Linux functionalities again these days so I found the inavailability of Pidgin since the previous weekend somewhat a hassle. I’m used to being available for relatives and friends using YM that’s why I took notice. I let a day pass thinking it could have been a temporary glitch.

I decided to look at it more closely, however, when the problem was still there the dawn on Tuesday. So to anyone still in the dark here, read on.

Turned out, according to Celtic Wolf, that an update in the Yahoo Network last June 17 was the culprit.An update seemed to be order so it was off to Pidgin’s official site. There, a confirmation of the problem was posted right at the main page so everything was straightforward from there.

After a few clicks and copy-pasted lines at the terminal, Pidgin was back in action.

Over OCR

I’ve never given a thought on OCR stuff much before because I never thought of a situation I would end up actually needing it.

Just early this day, I actually needed to find a solution towards that direction.

More specifically, I have a PDF from school with lengthy code in it and I need to have both server and client codes running. While the intuitive step of having the program files is to copy and paste everything, it turned out that things won’t be easy as that. It turned out that the text turned out garbled when pasted in Notepad++.

As a previous endeavor has shown, my tinkering inclination actually had me try to have the garbage figured out–how values map to the other. After a while I gave up though. I thought I should have ended up typing the 6 page mammoth instead of ending up having to spend an entire day decyphering the thing.

The only thing left for me to try was the OCR solution. Not wanting to have additional software installed though, I spent a few clicks at Google and found a surprising solution. Surprising in the sense that I never thought I’d find something of actual use for MS Office’s OneNote, its Copy Text from Picture functionality was literally a lifesaver here.

OneNote's Copy Text from Image

OneNote's Copy Text from Picture

So after a few clicks on Adobe Reader’s Snapshot tool before getting the text from OneNote, I got what my codes. Well, sort of since there were a few glitches in the translation that I had to correct still.

I’ll happily take that over straining these fingers having to retype everything though.

Oh Brother

I find it funny that, in some ways, life seems to mimic the blogging episode. That is, the absurdities you encounter in either bad apple is enough to get you hammering down on the odd one out. I’m talking about my recent difficulty in getting my printer to work yesterday and it definitely got me writing about what I had to go through then now.

Getting me out of my blogging stupor would not be the rant-worthy incident, (though it really is,) but the sheer fact that I just got the piece of nearly 2 year old junk to churn out readable prints. That despite having to do stuff with the hardware… from cleaning to test prints to re-inserting the cartridges to switching it on and off to resetting the printer then doing a combination of the same routines again. That despite having to put up with the printer when I’m so used to getting hardware technical support guys tinkering with it at work.

And it felt like I hit the jackpot… like I discovered the hidden combination when, after spending around 2 to 3 hours of painstaking to get the printer working, it spat out a recognizeable test print! That despite having done so for what seemed to be like about 30 to 40 test prints of nearly no color at all to that which had no black at all. The latter was the real whammy then because I had to print a scanned PDF file in black ink.

Also I knew I had to sort things out because should the need for something for my daughter at school come up, I could only imagine how much my wife would rare to smash the printer against the wall. My daughter’s assignment this afternoon only proved that it was well worth the trouble as I’m the only guy in this house with the patience to put up with erring hardware.

And it definitely was more on the wise side of things to get this old timer going as it eventually saved me a few thousand bucks with me not having to get a new one. Not to mention the trouble of getting rid of this chunk of hardware.

I’m not pulling my hair because of the DCP-130C for now, thanks to the Internet primarily.* Should it finally choke on me permanently, I can’t really say I’m getting something from the same manufacturer though.

* Thanks to phayber_optik of TipidPC for having the unintuitive printer reset procedures covered.

Mapping Development

world_map_01I remember when Internet great Google went on to release Google Maps a few years ago. The service made the once geographic modelling tool stuck in the pages of the Atlas a regular internet fodder. Since then, there have been a lot of innovations contributing to the technology and now, UN’s Millenium Development Goals are already in the map. Thanks to the possible related posts facility of WordPress.com for the find btw.

I remember writing about the UN’s Millenium Development Goals here. It’s pretty interesting to encounter them in a new and different light though. Cheers to Technology.

On Contrasts

By now a lot has been written about Obama’s victory for the presdency that throwing in another into the foray would bore even the usual current events apathetic. The lazy linksman in me could’ve just laid a carpet of bulleted links just to be able to push older contents further into the archives but I saw something fit to spend sometime writing about. In particular it was noticeable how much reads in a single day after that episode harped so much on contrasts. Of course it was quite predictable on the part of mainstream media to milk the line given the way the comparisons came out from that direction from the campaign right down through the election here so I’m including some of those which made their way to where I am.

For starter’s here’s Inquirer.net‘s headline story entitled “Black in White House.” Then there was the usual daily staples from the same local daily courtesy of CDQ entitled “Light and Dark” and MLQ3 entitled “Out with the Old, in with the New.” The former ran parallels on the candidates there and on the American and Philippine brand of democracies while the latter ran them on various Philippine social distinctions such as age.

NY Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, writes of Obama’s victory in Pennsylvania as something of a Civil War 145 years after the one in the history textbooks there was decided in Gettysburg. Building on the parallelism, Friedman begins with Lincoln’s urge regarding “the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far nobly advanced” to point out the voters’ decision as a victory for the struggle for equality. This before going on to elaborate contrast-fraught reasons for the Republican demise, (e.g. Buffett effect vs. Bradley effect, perceptions of the common good,) and views of what happens there here on. More of the article here.

Finally this FT article includes an account of the fortunes of Republicans candidates, successful or not, as it takes a look at why the party failed big time that day.

And so the die was cast and the new president will have everyone’s attention not only domestically but worldwide just as this IHT article on the US political development among many others indicates.

A Hiatus Hence

A streak of blanks after a string of posts last month. I hardly even recognize my drafts anymore.

Seriously that was how much (and long) rest I needed to recharge. It felt relieving to just bum around with computer games after work when the last time I freely indulged myself like this was during the summer.

Then there was that much needed rest due for nearly a month. It was pretty much an alternating routine of games and catching up on sleep the past month that kept me away from here. Throw in a new “toy” I got to have last week and it sure comes as surprising that I got to get this kicked up here. (This might have to wait for another entry though as I’m keeping the fanboyisms out of this post.) And I almost forgot about me and my daughter’s simple birthdays btw.

Then again I can always count on the lame excuse of second sem classes revving up my gears to spend more time tapping the keyboard for comprehensible stuff and not for hotkeys. Now that school’s here, (at least as far as one of my two subjects is concerned,) I’m suddenly warped back to that deadline-laden mindset enough for me to turn to this blog for solace again. When my major subject officially gets its act together, I can only imagine how much time I can keep up with this again though.

So I guess it’s time to get going again.

Some Creative Commons Pitfalls

CC Logo Indicating Some Restrictions

CC Logo Indicating Some Restrictions

ZDNet Asia featured an article discussing 3 common myths associated with the Creative Commons license which I thought worthwhile here. While it is patterned after FOSS licensing, it is nevertheless important to point out common misinterpretations of CC licenses in the interest of promoting respect for creative works. The article provides legal perspectives on these myths.

The first deals with the jurisdiction of the license. While it is thought of that CC licenses apply in the U.S. alone, there are countries which have ported the license to different copyright legislations. To my fellow Filipinos still in the country too, the Philippines is among those which have “completed ‘ports’ of the license.”

The second deals with the legality of the license. It is based on a legal framework which means that inappropriate usage of a given material is still illegal. Unlike the copyright however, the work is shared and can be used under certain conditions specified by the author. Like the copyright, the work’s author retains the rights “regardless of whether Creative Commons is applied.”

The last myth deals with the common misconception that a work can be used as long as it’s not for profit. While I’m tempted to render this common sense fodder, I simply can’t. At least not until I get to understand how this fits in the bill of fair use. Add the fact that there might be implications on what can be considered as fair use when jurisdiction is applied and I have to say that I absolutely have no idea there.

So one is better off reading what the license has to say of what usage it deems proper just as I have done in a paper I submitted in the past semester. Not only does that accord respect where it is due, it has a lot to say something about the intentions of someone intending to make use of something under the CC umbrella.

When still not sure, better get the author’s explicit permission as they would rather take the time to answer such requests than deal with infringing persons, inadvertent or not.

Towards the Horizon Further

It seems there’s nothing wrong with how I did the previous semester. I’m now expecting at least decent grades to keep my status in the program safe. No worries unlike the previous semester in short.

Having IS295a as my only major subject this coming semester, I have to start thinking about the final project required of MIS students before graduating the program. I have some ideas in mind already and I thank the people at the UPOU kapehan for leaving the trails from previous discussions there. For now, I’m reading on related stuff to give me an idea on how much I would score on innovativeness, creativity and usefulness.

As for those MIS classmates from IS201 who have been asking what to expect from the next semester, I gave a rather vague answer in the forum. That is, IS215 is a lot like IS214 in terms of the requirements–4 FMA’s and a 170 multiple choice type of final exam–and IS226 is a web programming crash course. With that said, I discouraged people from enrolling in 9 units again if they already took up 9 units the past semester and found it too difficult to manage their studies among their routines.

To anyone who might find that still unclear, here’s an attempt to explain what’s in store for the student further without getting me in trouble.

While the requirements for IS215 and IS214 seems similar, the resemblance ends there. I can say that while there were tons of concepts to be remembered in IS215, there are even more concepts in IS214. However IS215 outdoes IS214 in terms of the requiring the student to think analytically. Sure there are a number of algorithms discussed in IS214 too but even those taken collectively doesn’t beat having to think of coming up with stuff given just a sequential storage and crude assembly-like language.

So if one were the I-can-remember-tons-of-information kind of person, then IS214 would be easier. If one were the I-hate-having-to-memorize-because-I-was-made-to-analyze type of person, then IS215 would be easier.

I find no point in contrasting IS201 with IS226 however. Taken per se, one is entirely different from the other. The former deals with computer ethics while the latter with Web Technologies. Sure there may be times when both disciplines overlap, (e.g. “How do I go after someone who lifted of my content?”, “How would I be liable if I use this graphic?”) but the amount of time and effort to be spent in either subject depends on the ability of the student involving different skills. IS201 is more on writing and interaction on issues while IS226 is about putting those technologies to use.

So I would imagine someone with the intention to shift to the field of IT having more difficulty learning a whole bunch of technologies and making use of them to come up with the requirements. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised that the student who is almost exclusively a programmer at work would somewhat find IS226 somewhat to his or her liking.

A caveat is in order here though. I’ve been a web developer for many years prior to taking up the course but still had my share of difficulties in managing time in the subject. I may have done web applications in the past but none of those were cross-browser compatible. That’s because businesses tend to limit browser support to the most popular browser, IE, especially when a cross browser compatible site carries a heftier price tag with it or given an idea of the composition of its user base. I’m not complaining though, it makes life easier at work really.

The inexperience on web standards took its toll when I was a student of the subject though. While I already knew of the soup that’s XHTML, CSS and Javascript, it took a more rigid approach and more refinement before my deliverable passed the HTML and CSS validator at W3C. Before I forget, don’t even think of passing off that obfuscated tabled layout.

Someone new to the whole programming-the-web thing will definitely find Firefox and these plugins helpful though. Personally, I’ve used Firebug and Fireshot over there and I can say it works like a charm. Note though that it was still Firefox 2 for me then. I’m having trouble keeping my Firefox 3 sessions last long enough without crashing them so I can’t say that I’m recommending that record-setting attempt for now.

So should someone from the IS201 people find this post, (as my dashboard seems to suggest,) I hope that was more of help.

On Pauses and Breaks

A month ago, all I looked up to was the end of the semester. I thought much of the stress would come to a halt. I thought a lot of the pressures would ebb with school at a standstill.

I never couldn’t have been more wrong.

I’ve never seen problems at work pile up this much in the last couple of years. I’ve almost forgotten how the end of the day felt this much of a relief. Watching television doesn’t help either as there’s nothing much there except the pardons for those once controvertial persons convicted with life imprisonment, the worldwide ripples of the Wall Street problem and more social, political and economic problems everywhere.

So to try lighten up the mood, here are some things to contend with the seriousness of the times though.

  • 150 Best Online Flash Games – Just dumped it here for easier access come the time when I can bum more and worry less. I wish that time comes soon enough though as I can’t even remember when was the last time I’m driven nuts at work.
  • Earth from Above – I might not be even a step on the way towards good photography but I do appreciate good snapshots when I encounter them. I have to admit too that it was pretty relieving to see the planet in different and awesome angles.

On Best Practices

The previous semester had me pouring a good deal of time and more than a pound of neurons into an ethics portfolio as part of the requirements for a class in computer ethics. It was then when blogging and my internet journeyman experience came in handy. I was surely thankful all those times and effort I put into writing and wandering around in cyberspace turned out to yield something to my favor after all.

For instance, here’s the Sept 3 Dilbert strip which turned out handy in one of the pages of my submission:

Boss: We will be adopting the best practices in our industry, just like
everyone else.
Dilbert: If everyone is doing it, best practices is the same thing as mediocre.
Boss: Stop making mediocrity sound bad!
Dilbert: Sorry.

Apart from the humor, it sure proves to be a worthy old-content kicker here too.